Do the Yankees have a veritable All-Star team on the injured list? There are 12 men on the IL currently – okay, 11 since CC Sabathia was activated Saturday, but I’m writing this before his official activation - and I’m wondering just how good that collection of ballplayers is.
Miguel Andujar, Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino and Giancarlo Stanton are bona fide stars at their true talent levels, and what would happen if we put the current injured list on a roster, filled it with replacement level players, and played a full season?
We know what these players were projected to do, and we can take FanGraphs’ Depth Charts (a 50/50 blend of Steamer and ZiPS projections) to see that there is 21.5 projected fWAR over the full season on the IL right now. A replacement level team is worth about 48 wins, and when you add our 21.5 wins from the IL, we’d have this Yankee team:
Surrounded by scrubs and playing EXACTLY to projections, the IL Yankees would be exactly as good as the actual Detroit Tigers.
So the projected version of this Yankee team wouldn’t be all that great, and that’s fair. Projections are as a rule conservative, and ticket a number of the Yankees currently injured for absolutely zero production at all.
What if all the players repeated their previous seasons, though? No regression, positive or negative, just a carbon copy of their 2018 seasons, or in the case of Troy Tulowitzki, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jordan Montgomery, their 2017 campaigns, since we’ll be generous and credit them their previous full season. That collection of previous years was worth 32.2 fWAR, eleven wins more than the projections prognosticate for 2019. That changes the look of the team dramatically:
All of a sudden, they’re a .500 team. There’s so much talent on the shelf right now that if that injured talent was complemented by 13 Tyler Wades, the team would at least be in the playoff hunt until September. That is a ludicrous level of production to be missing.
Now, just for fun, let’s help our hypothetical Yankee team out. Instead of surrounding them with replacement level players, let’s surround them with a perfectly average team. No stars, no scrubs, just the classic “professional hitter” type of guy, plus a few fourth starters and middle relievers. Add those “average” players, who typically amount for nearly 2 fWAR to the production of the IL Yankees would make them unquestionably the best team in baseball, worth north of 110 wins.
Of course, the best complement for the 20-30 fWAR currently on the Yankees’ IL is the rest of the current Yankee squad. Surrounding Andujar, Hicks and the rest with Aaron Judge and James Paxton is the best recipe for success, and let’s keep our fingers crossed that happens sooner rather than later.